Comment: Love it or hate it, Gabriel Square has transformed London Road for the better

PUBLISHED: 16:19 04 April 2018 | UPDATED: 17:42 04 April 2018

A work in progress: The view of the garden square from the new Gabriel Square show home

A work in progress: The view of the garden square from the new Gabriel Square show home

Archant

It’s arguably the most talked-about property development St Albans has ever seen, and now its famous garden square is just weeks from completion.

Then: London Road, St Albans, as it looked in June 2011 (Google Street View)Then: London Road, St Albans, as it looked in June 2011 (Google Street View)

The space around which Gabriel Square’s 80 townhouses, flats and duplexes are arranged is expected to be finished by early May, complete with decking, seating areas and a state-of-the-art lighting scheme.

Whatever your opinion on the architecture – and everyone has one! – I don’t think anyone can argue with the garden square’s appeal. Outside space is in short supply this close to the centre of town, so it’s a massive asset for the new residents.

There’s certainly a lot of anticipation about how it will look in reality – it was still very much a work in progress when I visited last week, and I can’t wait to see how it compares to the flashy computer generated images, which are all we’ve had to go on so far.

Some are bound to find fault, but even the biggest of cynics have to agree that, as a whole, this smart new development is easier on the eye than the derelict site that had been there for so many years before. And as for the surrounding area – that’s a whole other issue.

Now: The same stretch of London Road as it looks in April 2018Now: The same stretch of London Road as it looks in April 2018

It’s easy to forget what this part of St Albans looked like until very recently: between the boarded up shops and the shabby, long-closed cinema it gave a depressing first impression to anyone making their way into town via London Road.

Now it’s a source of pride for locals, who love having an art deco cinema on their doorstep, as well as a specialist beer shop, a posh steak restaurant and a friendly independent café.

The architecture may not be everyone’s cup of tea but the area as a whole looks a hundred times better than it did at the turn of the decade, and for that we should all be grateful.

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